But the real chaos at Il Matto takes place on the plate. Chef and co-owner Matteo Boglione pairs olive-crusted sea scallops with almond foam, folds his flat-tasting lasagne with spelt, and touches curls of octopus with an unfortunate substance called “lard cream.” Some of these concepts actually work (the pappardelle with osso buco ragù is laced with an inventive bone-marrow zabaglione, for instance), but the real problem lies in the execution. The recipient of a dish called “peanut crusted chicken” claimed it tasted like “a mixture of drywall and peanut butter,” the foie gras–stuffed beef tenderloin was stringy, and my tuna entrée was cooked to an unpleasant grayness and set on the plate with a dreckish black-olive sauce and the remnants of a hairy artichoke heart. If you survive this gauntlet of self-conscious, inconsistent grub, you will be rewarded with some interesting desserts. The quirkiest is a mille-feuille built with slivers of eggplant. The most satisfying is an old-fashioned tiramisu, which is soaked, mercifully, with plenty of Amaretto.
Address: 24 Harrison St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-265-9463
Hours: Sunday 5 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Wednesday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Thursday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $6 to $10; entrées, $10 to $20.
Ideal Meal: Crispy duck frisée salad, lamb sausage with sage leaves, meatball sub or Russian Reuben, veal-and-ricotta meatballs or steak.
Scratchpad: Half a star for the drinks, and another half for the solid neighborhood fare.
Note: Besides its weirdly subjective wine list, this version of Terroir serves cocktails, and an eclectic selection of 30 beers.
Address: 281 Church St., at White St. 212-226-1607
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 11:30 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $13 to $15; entrées, $21 to $27.
Ideal Meal: Pappardelle with osso buco ragù, tiramisu.
Note: The zany, avant-garde house cocktails are composed by Christina Bini, a renowned mixologist from Florence.
Scratchpad: One star for the daring, occasionally inventive menu, minus a star for the inconsistent execution.